(Republished blog from January 5, 2020)
Some say FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) has never seen a permit application they didn’t like, probably approving 95-percent or more of the pipeline applications they receive. Easy to call that “rubber stamping.” Added to the larger pipelines, which can be several feet in diameter, are the gathering pipelines excavated from each and every gas well site.
In addition to the forest fragmentation and habitat reduction (trees can never be replanted on a pipeline right-of-way) brought on by pipelines of every size, are the ongoing spills, sedimentation and bentonite blow-outs like we had in our county five years ago. Pipeline Bentonite Blowout Video
Industry will argue that bentonite is harmless, while it is known to suffocate fish eggs and aquatic life with gills. Plus there have been instances where more toxic additives are used with bentonite, where pipeliners have needed to bore pipelines underground for long distances.
What will the cumulative effect of all this environmental destruction be over time?
Which brings us to another aspect of pipelines — explosions. Below is a recent news story, combined with excerpts from the Pa DEP document that outlines scores of pipeline violations and environmental abuses. Wish I could say “Unbelievable” — but sadly it’s just another chapter in what we have witnessed over the past 15 years of this mad rush for shale gas.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced an agreement Friday that includes a record fine against the company responsible for a 2018 natural gas pipeline explosion in Beaver County. The settlement also lifts a nearly year-long permit freeze on the company’s other pipeline projects, including the cross-state Mariner East pipelines. As part of the settlement, the DEP assessed a $30.6 million fine against ETC Northeast Pipeline, a subsidiary of the pipeline company Energy Transfer, the largest ever issued by the regulator. Environmental groups renewed their criticisms of Energy Transfer, which has already racked up more than $12 million in fines for its violations along the Mariner East.Source
Aftermath of the September 10, 2018 explosion along the Revolution pipeline. A landslide near Ivy Lane in Center Township caused the pipeline to rupture, with the subsequent blast shooting flames 150 feet into the air and causing evacuations. The fire burned 2 to 4 acres of trees, destroyed a single-family home, a barn and numerous vehicles. The fire also damaged high voltage power lines, causing six high voltage electric transmission towers to collapse. Consent Order and Agreement Source (PDF)
“Sediment laden water was discharged on at least 540 occasions into, at minimum, the following waters of the Commonwealth and/or their tributaries — Raccoon Creek, Service Creek, Frames Run, Pine Run, Crows Run, Brush Creek, Obney Run, and wetlands…” Source (PDF)
Image: Revolution Pipeline stream crossing
“Eliminated at least 23 streams by removing and/or filling the stream channels with soil during construction activities, resulting in a loss of approximately 1,857 linear feet of stream channel…
eliminated at least 17 and altered at least seventy (70) wetland areas by manipulating and/or filling wetlands with soil.” Source (PDF)
The Revolution Gas Plant in Smith Township, northern Washington County, Pa. is on the southern end of the Revolution Pipeline. The 40-mile pipeline had only been in service one week — between Butler and Washington counties — when the explosion occurred.
Site of the Revolution Pipeline explosion one-year later. September 19, 2019.